It’s Advent? It’s Advent! And it’s Not Just an Old Bible Story
Sometimes you know a thing, but it doesn’t strike you as highly significant until it’s said out loud. Sometimes you have heard a thing before, but you don’t fully realize the implications until you begin thinking about it more deeply. This is exactly what happened to me as a result of taking African United Methodists on the Fredericksburg Trolley tour. I guess I’ve been on the Fredericksburg Trolley tour three times, so I’ve heard the driver give the historic information before, but it really struck me like a ton of bricks on the latest tour ride.
Did you know, (or remember if you did know) that Fredericksburg, Virginia, on four different times in history has been the site of wars? Just let that sink in for a moment. The place where I now call home was the site of fighting, looting, killing, and burning causing flight that created refugees. Fredericksburg has bodies buried all around her as a result of the French & Indian War of 1754, the American Revolution of 1783, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War of 1861.
Letting these historic events sink in deep and thinking about the human cost brought to mind the fact that on four occasions citizens of my city became homeless, became refugees, and were forced to flee for safety.
This hit me like a ton of bricks for three reasons. It hit me hard because I simply can’t imagine a) me and my family having to take only what we could carry and flee on foot; b) fleeing from danger and having to rely solely on the kindness of strangers to survive; and c) running for dear life and hoping not to be injured or killed while seeking safety.
Could I do it like the Fredericksburg citizens did four times from 1754 to 1861? Could you do it? If you did have to flee, would you pray, and what would you pray for? If I had to flee, would my faith grow stronger and sustain me, or would it diminish? I confess that I have no idea where I’d go if I had to flee this area or (God forbid) this nation. If you were in this situation, where would you go?
I thank God that Americans are not at the point of facing what the Fredericksburg citizens have faced! But that too made me think. How are we, the Christians in this nation doing at dealing with those who are fleeing? Let me say that my perspective on responding to people fleeing from their homeland was shaped at an early age by
Central UM church (in Hampton, VA). Central UMC modeled amazing hospitality after the Vietnam War by receiving more than 40 refugee families (almost 300 people)
. The preaching, teaching, bible study, and ministries at Central also solidified my understanding of what it means to live scripture. I see this as important in today’s culture as so many Christians seem to disregard, distort, or ignore the Old and New Testament scriptures that tells us how to treat strangers in our land.
This week I thought I’d share what hit me really hard and caused me to think deeply. I’m not sure what to do with it or about it, but I’m sure God dropped this on me for a reason.
If you’re reading this and not thinking about Joseph and Mary fleeing, you might want to stop what you are doing and pick up a bible.
"Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land."
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong."
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”